Certainly individualist, unaccountable, white-focused and, in my view, racist approaches to this work and activism do exist, and perhaps in some places that goes by the name of antiracism. But the overall movement of antiracist theory and action has been away from just that type of approach.
I went to a demonstration this afternoon in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Farmworkers Support Committee (CATA) based in South Jersey and the Kaolin Workers Union in Kennett Square. This part of rural (but increasingly exurban) southeast PA is a mushroom-growing area; it supplies 40 percent (!) of the United States' mushrooms. CATA and the Kaolin union are both fantastic worker- and immigrant-led organizations that, beginning with the Kaolin Strike in 1993 and culminating in successful unionization in 2002, have kept up the pressure both for workers' rights and migrant laborer and immigrant rights.
(As published in the journal Peace & Change) When the important work of third-party nonviolent intervention is undertaken by people with relative privilege, it runs the risk of hindering the empowerment of the local movements they aim to assist by replicating racist or classist dynamics in the struggle itself. By relying on the status attached to the economic, cultural, and military dominance of the Global North, nonviolent intervention organizations can facilitate a relationship of dependency that offers short-term strategic advantages but that in itself is less likely to promote the nonviolent empowerment of local movements. Sensitivity training within intervention organizations may help activists strategize in ways that avoid some of the pitfalls of operating from positions of privilege.
“Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation.”
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